Present Times

Manjira Datta

1999, 52:00 minutes, colour, Bengali w English S.T.


This video documentary is based on the field research of Dr.Jayoti Gupta who was supported by four village activists turned researchers for this project. The video reflects and analyses the demands of the peasant women's movement of West Bengal, India, where a massive land reform and land redistribution programme has been underway since 1977. Women were however left out of the reform and only in the early nineties the
peasant women raised their demand for the equal ownership of land both with their husbands or as single women. As the film develops we discover that the land reform programme is being seriously undermined by the selling of lands for growing dowry demands in the global consumer society which celebrates the accumulation of quick capital and quick get rich schemes like dowry. Women are suffering along with their parents as men are marrying several times, illegally. The fast pace of globalization , i.e. urbanisation and
aqua farms are also eroding the gains of the peasantry especially of the women.
As the film comes to the end we see the women's movement leaders of West Bengal discussing about the importance of ending the practice of dowry and demanding equal rights to land ownership as a basic human right.
Property discrimination in agrarian countries is particularly striking, women own about one percent of the world's land. Without land or property they cannot get any credit.
In Industrialized countries , its similar, women have much lower rates of home ownership than men. *Source :The State of Women in the World Atlas by Joni Seager,Penguin.

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